Stop it Dave. No, really, stop it. Stop!

A final word for a chap called Dave. Plus some reassuring news for the people of a certain ward in t

Dear Marina

wha g’wan? DC here. Check it. You’re just the kind of bird I want in my party. You’re not old. You don’t wear twinsets and pearls but you do remind older colleagues of a young feisty Maggie. Let’s face it you’re wasted on old man Ming’s posse! Come on be a Green Con like me! Cross the floor and sex us up, you gorgeous filly.

Yours with the utmost respec’, Dave.

P.S. Word!

You turn if you want to: on Iraq, on ID cards, raising standards in education and the rest. But this lady is not for turning.

Sorry Dave – Trident hugger - I’d rather have my nipples crushed in a mangle.

Given your media friendly claims of a U-turn on traditional nasty Tory values, and your apparent repentance at constantly propping up the Labour vote, how about coming over to us. We’re waiting for you here

But please, don’t bring your councillors with you. It’s just too ghastly to contemplate.

Dear Marina

I had a phone call the other day from a lady asking me to vote Tory. Obviously I told her I was voting for you. I mean, how many men my age get to vote for a rising political star with lovely eyes and great baps to boot?

She advised me you were being parachuted into a safe seat. Newhaven she said, owing to local support for your anti-incinerator campaign.

Notwithstanding my concern at you taking up sky diving, I’m gutted you could even contemplate abandoning your community.

We love you Marina

George, East Saltdean near Brighton.
PS: Thank you for sorting my recycling!

George. Thank you for your getting in touch. Rest assured sir, with my record of action and promise of more I WILL stand for re-election in my community of East Saltdean and Telscombe on May 3rd.

This scurrilous rumour appears to be a dirty trick aimed at destroying my hard earned personal vote – and the well deserved local LibDem vote. We’re a strong team.

George, we’re fighting for our political lives against a bunch of no mark Cons. Every vote counts on 3rd May. All offers of help and pledges for the fighting fund to Vote Pepper

The revolution is on George
M
Xxx
PS: Need a postal vote or a lift to the polling station?

Dear Marina

Firstly my apologies. You were right. Grabbing your bottom like that was no way to behave since you were meeting me in your capacity as Mayor. Thank you for dealing with my local issue with such manners and grace. I deserved a face slap.

To the point. The Tories have just been round trying to press gang me to stand in the locals.

I told them, Marina, I said there’s no way I’d stand against you. I mean who wants to work that hard? And for what? Just to get hassled by old ladies smelling of wee, moaning about the state of the pavements whenever I pop out to the local shop for 20 Marlborough and a packet of king sized Rizlas. Why don’t they just drive like normal people?

Anyway. They said you weren’t standing here. I’m appalled. It’s not because I grabbed your bum is it?

Name and address supplied

Thank you for getting in touch. I WILL stand for re-election on 3rd May in East Saltdean and Telscombe. To request a postal vote, donate money, or pledge support here

I neither smoke Marlborough nor experience similar encounters when using my local shops for all my supplies (bar the vegetables - my home is the local organic veg box drop off for East Saltdean and Telscombe).

I do however accept that the pavements in our ward are an atrocious mess. I know this because all sorts of people have told me. And I listen. I’ve twisted my ankle, too, while out delivering Focus leaflets.

But crazy pavements, like pot-holed roads and the Newhaven incinerator are the responsibility of East Sussex County Council. Controlled by the Tories, of course.

If you want my advice about standing dwell on this: it’s a two horse race on May 3rd. Only the Liberal Democrats can beat the Tories. You might win by one vote. Don’t risk it.

Marina Pepper is a former glamour model turned journalist, author, eco-campaigner and Lib Dem politician. A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate, she lives near Brighton with her two children.
Why not e-mail your problems to askmarina@newstatesman.co.uk?
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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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